Saturday, April 11, 2015
"In my next blog I will continue with how I applied the practical steps of walking through anxiety, and how I was able to successfully avoid an anxiety reaction in one of the circumstances . This experience has changed my entire self-experience, opened up a new understanding of how things can be different, and showed me that it IS possible to learn how to become the master of one’s emotions, and no longer remain the slave."
If you can recall and bring up the experience of anxiety within self, you can probably relate to that fact that the energy experience is, as the interview describes, sporadic, chaotic and intense. This detail is important to remark because we can use this information to see, realize and understand the best way to approach ourselves when we are in these situations (beginning an anxiety reaction). If, for example, we are too hard on ourselves, the anxiety energy can and will use this approach to further intensify itself. If we panic, it can also serve to fuel the anxiety. If we become mad or frustrated, it can perpetuate the anxiety.
It’s as if a child is throwing a tantrum and the parent screams at the child in an attempt to subdue or control him to make it stop. This can further upset the child and fuel/perpetuate the tantrum. Now compare this to speaking in a calm and stable manner to the child, this may not be an instant blanket solution, but it will not further aggravate the situation, and the child can be talked down slowly, and the tantrum can not last forever. Anxiety within self functions in the same way. This example demonstrates how our self-approach can either assist and support ourselves to walk through and out of the anxiety in a calm and stable manner, or conversely, how it can further perpetuate the experience if we do not take the wheel, gain control and direct ourselves.
Within this understanding, one can keep in mind that any self-judgment, guilt, anger, shame, or any other emotion can and will be exaggerated when in an anxiety reaction, and therefore serves only to aggravate the situation, whereas being calm, stable and gentle can dissipate the chaotic, sporadic and intense experience going on within us. This is the difference between getting caught up in the anxiety and believing it is necessary, believing that there is no way out, and this is 'who I am', instead of understanding it as a reaction that has been triggered and will now play out, but that we can remain standing within the understanding that we can choose not to play into it. The goal here is to eventually prevent the reaction from occurring in the first place, but we must first deal with what is already here, which is the existence of anxiety reactions and generalized anxiety which we see as beyond our control. It is not.
In order to see the control one truly do have, it is important to understand what s going on within self. Within this we are practicing how to look at everything to do with anxiety completely objectively; to see anxiety as a reaction, a substance or an entity that is triggered by thoughts/memories, to recognize that this simply requires to be managed by oneself, and to understand that anxiety is not simply an inevitable part of self that one must learn to live with and constantly react to. To illustrate, here is a practical example from my life where I was able to recognize the anxiety quickly and dissipate the reaction:
Last week, I was about to start cooking (which, in my previous blog I had mentioned as one example of when my anxiety is triggered). I had just had a very busy day and when I got home I could feel I was high strung. I felt a stress and a buzzing sensation in my body, and instead of calming myself down, I immediately moved myself to begin the next task, which was to prepare dinner. Within this internal energetic experience of 'stress', ‘rushed’ and ‘buzzing’, it feels like there is a pressure to do everything quickly and hurriedly, everything is rushed and there is no time for rest. This set of circumstances set me up for falling into the anxiety reaction I described in my first example from my previous blog, where my anxiety connects to a sense of overwhelming-ness.
I was alone at home at that moment so I was able to speak to myself out loud. First I used the breathing techniques, and then I used the voice tonality described in the interview (calm, stable, directive to offset the intense, chaotic and sporadic energy of anxiety) and spoke my self-forgiveness. In the same calm, directed and stable voice, I talked to myself about what I was doing, how I was making things more difficult for myself and that it wasn’t necessary, and how I could proceed calmly and in an organized way. I was able to slow down and create steps for myself, and eventually I put together a meal while remaining as present and aware as possible. When my partner came home I recognized the fact that my mood was light, I was able to have fun and communicate easily and enjoy the moment, which then allowed him to be light and open, even after a long day at work.
If I had accepted and allowed the anxiety reaction, I would have instead experienced what I had become so used to, which was feelings of varying degrees of irritation, impatience, or no desire to communicate. When another person is subjected to this the mood feels heavy and tense. If ones' partner comes home after a long day at work and is met with someone that is overwhelmed/stressed causing irritability, impatience and being non-communicative due to anxiety, it affects the relationship negatively. This can contribute to creating a toxic home environment, especially when repeated daily over many years. This is one of the consequences of accepting and allowing oneself to live with generalized anxiety, it doesn't just affect self, so the responsibility to face and manage one's anxiety disorder is a self-responsibility which extends beyond self.
Within my own self-treatment, what I’ve learned over the past few weeks has been that it is of utmost importance that one recognize the brief moment where anxiety first starts – before it is able to connect to and amplify other emotions, memories, personalities and patterns. This is because in that small moment, when I look at it and recognize it, and can say to myself “oh, this is just anxiety sneaking in because of the particular circumstances I am in,” and the anxiety feels small, insubstantial and powerless. But when I miss this moment, the anxiety is able to connect itself to the emotions, memories and thoughts, then an anxiety reaction has been triggered and it must now be navigated through.
Once an anxiety reaction is triggered, it must now be walked through.
Walking through an anxiety reaction:
Being within an anxiety reaction feels so real, and the anxiety feels so much a part of me that to deny it would be to deny myself. I try saying to myself “it’s just anxiety, it’s just anxiety,” but part of me fights back, proving to myself it is real and valid, and I experience rushes of emotional energy, and I am flooded by negative thoughts, fantasies and future projections. In these moments, when I’ve missed the opportunity – I direct myself to breathe, I feel the waves of anxiety pass over me. It feels extremely uncomfortable and unbearable, but I tell myself it will end, it can't last forever, it has to end eventually. I speak self-forgiveness to understand where the reaction came from in order to trace it back to the thoughts or memories that triggered it. This is what the tool of self-forgiveness allows one to do. I have to continuously pull myself back into my body, even f it feels exceptionally uncomfortable in there. I pull myself out of my mind, because I understand that is where it is all taking place. I try to keep myself as physical as possible, feeling my body and focusing on what I’m doing. Continue to do these steps, to focus on breathing and self-acceptance. Embrace and accept self within the reaction - do not perpetuate it by judging self or becoming angry or upset. Watch for the thoughts/emotions/memories/fantasies that will come to fuel the anxiety. Gently but firmly direct oneself to stop thinking about them, and focus on the moment Here. The anxiety will end, and things will go back to normal in a matter of time. It's just a matter of time.
Prevention is the Best Cure
The best solution is to keep practicing being able to recognize the moment anxiety first starts, because that is where it can be stopped. The goal is to prevent the reactions from taking place at all. This requires a slowing down within self, and a self-awareness perhaps not previously developed. I will work on these aspects over the next weeks, by studying my examples of ‘anxiety-triggering situations’ I wrote about in my last blog. I will ‘study’ them by walking through them one by one, doing self-forgiveness on all the points so that I reveal to myself any hidden self-sabotage and to see what exactly is going on that leads me to create an anxiety reaction within myself. This will be the topic for my next blog.
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Thursday, April 2, 2015
In my previous blog I had listed five examples of where, when and how I am triggered into anxiety reactions in my day-to-day life. What I noticed, which was also mentioned in the interview recording I am being supported by, is that there is not such a huge variety in terms of instances where my anxiety is triggered. This is not to say that it is not triggered a lot – I am saying that the circumstances within which anxiety is triggered are very similar and quite limited. This is, in a way, good news in terms of bringing the anxiety energy to a point of diffusion, and directing self within these situations. This is because seeing as the variety of circumstances is limited – I will get ample practice, and the skills I develop will be useful in many situations and many times throughout the day (instead of , for example, having many different anxiety reactions wherein walking through them one by one would take more time).
Please read my last blog for context, as I will be proceeding on to the next step of what to do when and as one is in these anxiety situations. Also note that I am listening to a series that provides a general framework and understanding of anxiety, what it is and how it functions, and I would strongly recommend investing in this series yourself when you are able, as I have been listening to it several times so as not to miss any details.
In my first blog on this topic, I explained how anxiety in itself functions as a moment’s hesitation wherein the mind has time to connect past memories, mind-patterns or entire personalities for example, to a current similar situation wherein the anxiety then acts as an amplifier of this emotional energy. An example of such a play-out could be for instance, when one is preparing to leave for an event, meeting or other occasion. The moment could be when one would look at the clock and calculate the amount of time required to finish preparing to leave, versus the amount of time required to get there, leaving the possibility of not having enough time. What will happen in this moment is that anxiety will now be triggered in an instance, as if from nowhere, and from that one moment it can then build until it becomes intense enough to change one’s entire personality during the time the anxiety is generating/being generated and fueled/fueling thoughts (eg: being late, memories of previous times one had been late where there were consequences; thoughts about how one’s late-ness will create consequences again in imaginary scenarios and play-outs), which can then for example cause an influx of emotions such as guilt, fear and remorse. If I place myself in this situation I can see that I would then go into a ‘rushed’ personality, where I become easily irritated and even angry due to thoughts, fears and back-chat of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’s’. Then comes the guilt and self-judgment for not having been more organized and for having put oneself in this situation in the first place.
The above example demonstrates how one can be overcome by the mind and generate and use a lot of energy, and actually do things that could be harmful or consequential (eg: driving too fast, getting angry at others), when one could have in that first moment, grounded oneself and instead directed oneself to remain practical, calm, and stable.
The above example is one in which all the possible effects or anxiety had been triggered. There are, of course, varying degrees of complexity and intensity, depending on how much we play into the thoughts/emotions/personalities/mind-patterns etc… how much be believe them to be real, and how we react to them. For example, sometimes I find myself reacting within continuously feeding the situation, as if contemplating every possible play-out and all worst-case scenarios would somehow create a solution for myself, but instead it just intensifies it and feeds it, when the solution would have been to catch the anxiety in its initial stages and stopped it then and there.
This brings us to the next step in the process of directing one’s anxiety. The reason I have spent so much time looking at, describing and writing out how anxiety functions within and as me, is because in order to stop the anxiety where it starts we have to slow ourselves down within ourselves, enough so that we can catch the anxiety when it starts. We have to catch it before it is able to connect, attach and bring up all the patterns I mentioned in the above example. This is where and how one gives oneself the opportunity to ground oneself in the physical as soon as one notices an anxiety reaction being triggered. To ground oneself in the physical is to function according to the needs and demands of physical reality only, meaning, real reality -the ‘real world’- and not the world within ourselves- not the world of imagination and fantasy where worst-case scenario play outs seem so real, where fears and emotions can rule, and where self-judgment can sabotage things we had been working so hard to build.
The interview I listened to described breathing techniques used to bring oneself back from being ‘sucked in’ to the mind and grounded back into one’s body, because the anxiety exists entirely in the mind. It also describes in great detail the voice tonalities which are most effective when one is within an anxiety reaction, how to speak to oneself to walk oneself out of the reaction and into self-direction. I don’t have enough time/space to repeat all of this information, but I will go into what it is exactly that I will speak in blogs to come.
In my next blog I will continue with how I applied the practical steps of walking through anxiety, and how I was able to successfully avoid an anxiety reaction in one of the circumstances . This experience has changed my entire self-experience, opened up a new understanding of how things can be different, and showed me that it IS possible to learn how to become the master of one’s emotions, and no longer remain the slave.If you would like to teach yourself how to find the answer to yourself within yourself, check out DIP Lite, a free online course. As you move through the lessons, looking at the mind as you have never seen it before. You are assigned to a 'buddy', someone that has already walked the process, to support you through the writing. It is completely free and confidential. On lesson 6 you get 4 amazingly supportive chats with your buddy.